CRACKSHOT Kyogo Furuhashi fired back at the double to shoot Celtic six points ahead at the Premiership pinnacle.

The lightning-swift raider struck twice in the first-half to make sure the banana skin was removed against a Hearts team that had beaten the Hoops in the previous two matches.

Brendan Rodgers could afford a smile of satisfaction with only three league hurdles to go as they eye a third successive title – and the club’s twelfth crown in 13 years.

Matt O’Riley walloped in a late penalty-kick to make certain there would be celebrations in the east end of Glasgow.

Philippe Clement’s Ibrox side now have to come up with some answers when they face Kilmarnock in Govan tomorrow afternoon as they play catch-up.

It was a hectic start to the match in Paradise. Inside a minute, the visitors swooped onto a miscued throw-in from Greg Taylor and the ball was worked to Lawrence Shankland who fired in a low drive which was deflected by a lunging O’Riley for a corner-kick on the left.

Thankfully, the defence maintained their concentration to repel the danger from the set-piece.

The Hoops’ response was immediate as Kyogo netted with a close-range header. O’Riley delivered a dangerous right-wing corner-kick that forced Zander Clark to punch clear under pressure.

Reo Hatate snapped onto the clearance just outside the box and chipped another ball into the box. He picked out unguarded compatriot Kyogo who timed his movement to perfection to glance his effort into the inviting net from six yards.

PARADISE…hitman Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates another goal at Parkhead.

There was the obligatory VAR check for about a minute before referee Kevin Clancy confirmed what everyone in the ground knew – it was a legitimate strike.

Images produced by the technical gurus wiped away all argument and the frontman was onside when he made contact.

Joe Hart came to the rescue in the 11th minute to preserve the champions’ advantage when the keeper stretched full-length to his left to spectacularly touch a netbound drive from Cammy Devlin round the left-hand post.

The champions responded once again in ruthless fashion with Kyogo claiming his second goal in the 21st minute.

It was all breathless stuff as the ball was moved around at a frantic pace, but it was midfield mastermind O’Riley who added some composure to the proceedings with a sensational long diagonal pass from the left into the danger zone.

Kyogo kept his eye firmly on the ball as it arrived between two Hearts defenders as he struck it sweetly from the penalty spot to leave Clark helpless again low to his left.

A sell-out Parkhead was rocking as the champions went about the task in hand with a ferocious zest and vigour.

DOUBLE UP…Kyogo Furuhashi celebrates in fine style again.

The hosts continued to threaten, but Reo Hatate’s elevation from a 25-yard free-kick was out as he thumped a deadball effort over the top.

James Forrest was looking lively as he raided on the left, but it was Nicolas Kuhn, on the opposite flank, who cut inside to set up Taylor for the next shooting opportunity, but Clark held on well.

And the giant keeper was in action again moments later when he got down smartly to his left to push away a clever drive from O’Riley.

And bang on the interval it was the Edinburgh No.1 who thwarted Kyogo in his bid for a first-half hat-trick.

Forrest jinked in from the left and passed to Hatate. The astute midfielder once more touched a pass in front of his team-mate Kyogo who swivelled brilliantly to fire in a shot that looked destined for the net.

Clark, though, displayed extraordinary reflexes to throw himself to his right to push the ball round the upright for a corner-kick.

A BIG HAND…Brendan Rodgers applauds his players.

The hosts came out on the front foot in the second-half and O’Riley had a drive diverted for a corner-kick. In the 52nd minute, the Danish international volleyed an exquisite cross into the box and Kyogo was within an inch of touching it in from four yards.

Hearts survived and so, too, did Devlin when Clancy showed a yellow card when it could so easily have been red when the Aussie launched into a wayward tackle on O’Riley that sent the Celt flying.

Clark once more denied the Hoops with a fantastic double save just before the hour mark. O’Riley set up Hatate with a deft touch and it looked a goal all the way as it left the Japanese ace’s boot.

The shotstopper plunged to his left to parry the ball to the side, O’Riley latched onto the rebound and aimed at attempt at the near post, but once again Clark managed to push the ball away for a corner-kick.

In the 72nd minute, Kyogo, Hatate and Kuhn made way for Adam Idah, Tomoki Iwata and Daizen Maeda as boss Rodgers freshened up the line-up.

Three minutes later, Hart had to be lively to race from his line to block a drive for Yurtaro Oda. Taylor looked to be fouled in the build-up, but the match official waved play on.

The keeper, with only four games to play for Celtic, is clearly going to go in style.

SPOT ON…Matt O’Riley makes no mistake with his penalty-kick.

Another massive plus in this game was the performance of the influential Callum McGregor who put in an impressive showing and looked back to match fitness. Welcome back, skipper!

He left the pitch in the fading moments to a standing ovation as Paulo Bernardo took his place.

Luis Palma came on for Forrest in the 84th minute and moments later Shankland clearly handled a left-wing corner-kick from the Honduran. Clancy missed the incident, but VAR, quite correctly, instucted the ref to review the moment.

An obvious spot-kick was awarded and O’Riley fairly lashed an unstoppable effort high into the net with Clark left utterly helpless.

Now all eyes are on the fourth derby of the season at the same venue a week today when the champions can tighten their grip on the silverware that looks quite at home in the Parkhead trophy room.

TEAM: Hart; Johnston, Carter-Vickers, Scales, Taylor; O’Riley, McGregor (sub: Bernardo 89), Hatate (sub: Iwata 72); Kuhn (sub: Maeda 72), Kyogo (sub: Idah 72) and Forrest (sub: Palma 84).

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